Friday 29 November 2019

ReadItDaddy's Comic / Graphic Novel of the Week - Week Ending 29th November 2019: "Little Lulu: Working Girl" by John Stanley (Drawn and Quarterly)

Bringing back awesome comics from yesteryear is definitely a trend we'd love to see continuing well into 2020, as 2019 has seen some brilliant compilations coming from various comic publishers.

"Marge's Little Lulu: Working Girl" by John Stanley has been gathered together into a colossal volume presented in a gorgeous hard cover by Drawn and Quarterly.

What's really interesting for us is that this comic, hailing from the "Golden Age" of newspaper-based short-run strips and 'funnies' pull-out sections in the 1940s and 1950s over the pond in the US, would have been totally lost to us if it wasn't for a publisher taking a chance on producing an excellent collected volume like this.

So who is Little Lulu? For generations of Americans she was their equivalent to our Minnie the Minx or Beryl the Peril. A little girl who wasn't just content to play with dolls or fit to the usual feminine stereotypes. Little Lulu, along with her best buddy Tubby, liked to play with catapults, get up to all sorts of hi-jinks and definitely was not content to sit on the sidelines while the boys had all the fun.

Each of the strips here reinforces what made Little Lulu such an inspirational and favourite character, often cited by celebrities as being almost unique in popular comic strip culture at the time, emerging from an era where women in comic strips were either subservient housewives, slightly dizzy (as with Blondie) or there to be rescued by some lantern-jawed goon with a gun.

Most of the strips feel very much of the era yet their messages remain pretty timeless, and sometimes Lulu's visible frustration at the patriarchy is - sadly - all too relevant to the way the world often is today, more than 70 years after the strips first saw the light of day in Dell Magazine.

It feels somewhat ironic that the male creator of these strips had such an acute and accurate view of what it would feel like to be a 10 year old girl just wanting to join in and have fun without being subjected to discrimination and sexism. We'll slide some of the other non-politically-correct aspects of the strip under the rug, but this is a superb collection and one that had C's complete attention (and still does as it's one heck of a weighty tome, weighing in at 256 pages).

Sum this book up in a sentence: A sublime slice of awesome comic strip fun with a feminist hero who was way, way ahead of her time, created by an artist and writer with some seriously sharp observational skills.

"Little Lulu: Working Girl" by John Stanley is out now, published by Drawn and Quarterly (kindly supplied for review).
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ReadItDaddy's Final Picture Book of the Week for 2019: "The Tunnel" by Anthony Browne (Walker Books)

Our final Picture Book of the Year may not be something that was published this year (in fact it was published for the first time almost 30 years ago! Wow!), but it's a book that we were prompted to re-buy recently after being completely hypnotised by it in a bookshop.

"The Tunnel" by Anthony Browne is one of those 'dark' children's books you always hear about, you know, the ones the industry seems to have taken a pass on in recent years. Yet here is the perfect modern fairy tale, every bit as edgy and faintly menacing as classic tales from Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm - but with a contemporary look and feel which - even after 30 years - still feels timely and relevant.

Once upon a time a brother and sister lived a fairly happy and ordinary life. Like most siblings, they were prone to fighting and arguing with each other, with either one annoying or playing pranks on their sibling.

When their mother eventually tires of their bickering, she sends them out to play - and the mischievous brother finds a strange tunnel, and can't resist exploring it.

The sister is left all on her own, and when the brother doesn't reappear, she confronts her own fear head on, and crawls into the tunnel after him. What she finds on the other side is an unexpected, magical and thoroughly menacing new land that seems to have sprung to life from her own fairytale-obsessed imagination.

So many hidden images tucked into Anthony's amazing paintings. See what you can spot!
The story maintains an air of making the reader and the main character thoroughly uncomfortable, at times you're convinced you're being watched as well as the poor sister in the story. With good reason, as the illustrations feature all manner of mystical shapes, beastly and menacing, ready to eat you all up!

When the sister finally finds her missing brother there's a chilling shock in store - one we're desperate not to spoil for you, suffice to say beware when checking this book out on Amazon as one of the images has a whomping great big spoiler in it!

If you've never encountered any of Anthony Browne's books before, they're all fantastic - every single one of them, the man is incapable of writing / illustrating duff books, and this is probably our favourite of all of his brilliant 'hidden image' books (we're also huge fans of his brilliant Chimpanzee books featuring hapless hero Willy).

If you want to see what folk really mean when they talk about dark children's books, here's one of the finest examples, still as good on a re-read as it was when we first got it out of the Library many, many years ago. Thoroughly recommended!

Sum this book up in a sentence: A dark and delicious modern fairy tale wrought with Browne's expert eye for playing on your visual sense as you read through this superb story.

"The Tunnel" by Anthony Browne is out now, published by Walker Books (self purchased - not supplied for review). 
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ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 29th November 2019: "Mr Penguin and the Catastrophic Cruise" by Alex T. Smith (Hodder Children's Books)

Our Chapter Book of the Week is the glorious third book for an intrepid hero who embraces adventure with aplomb, in a middle grade series that's just chock full of giggles, awesome characters and compelling stories.

"Mr Penguin and the Catastrophic Cruise" surprised us at first by the sheer size of the book, giving kids plenty of story to dig into as Mr Penguin heads off on a cruise ship for his latest case.

Oddly, despite being a penguin, he's not exactly a fan of water and can't swim. But the briny deep will be the least of his worries, as in grand style there's a mystery afoot - and if there's one thing Peng definitely does like it's solving a tricky puzzle or two!

With best chum Colin performing in the ladies choir on board, and the lure of 24-hour-a-day fish finger sarnie availability, Mr Penguin feels that it might actually be a lovely rest, and a chance to recuperate after all his previous adventures. But nefarious characters on board ship have other ideas...

Alex pulls out all the stops - both in the brilliantly funny storytelling department, and in his utterly fantastic illustrations, really bringing the dodgy characters at the heart of this new mystery to life. 

Is it me, or is that woman slightly suspicious?
Superb stuff for young adventure fans, Mr Penguin once again sails effortlessly into our book of the week slot to make it his own!

"Mr Penguin and the Catastrophic Cruise" by Alex T. Smith is out now, published by Hodder Children's Books (kindly supplied for review). 
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ReaditDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 29th November 2019: "Planet Rescue" by Patrick George (Patrick George Publishing)

Our second Picture Book of the Week - and in fact our final Picture Book of the Week for 2019 once again touches on a theme that has, without a doubt, dominated the headlines and of course kidlit this year.

"PlanetRescue" by Patrick George follows other titles in the acetate-paged "Rescue" series, using a minimal word count and innovative design to allow children to make a change for the good when it comes to the environment.

Each page allows them to see one aspect of pollution or planet-affecting change and flip the page to see what could be done instead.

Engaging kids very early on when it comes to environmental issues really is the way forward (in fact we'd like to make a point that more early years books along the lines of this one are desperately needed).

A book that is both brilliant for use in early years classes to drive class projects around the environment and ecologically sound practices, and one that also uses clever observations and even a touch of deft humour to get its points across (the "eat less meat" page-flip is just superb and SO clever, have to say!)

Sum this book up in a sentence: Showing kids how to be kinder to our planet never looked more stylish and was never more cleverly executed than in this brilliant book!

"Planet Rescue" by Patrick George is out now, published by Patrick George Publishing (kindly supplied for review)

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ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 29th November 2019: "Heidi" by Johanna Spuri, Jeanne Willis and Briony May Smith (Nosy Crow)

"Aww, poor Heidi!" - This was at one time one of my wife's childhood catchphrases, as her mum read to her this well-loved children's classic nestling into our Book of the Week slot this week.

"Heidi" by Johanna Spyri, retold here by Jeanne Willis with gorgeous new illustrations from blog fave Briony May Smith is much, much more than just a lovely edition of a classic book. It's a book that comes to life as you read, a tale that speaks of idyllic childhood days spent in the crisp clear air of the mountains, but also a twinge of tragedy as Heidi is taken away from her loving grandparents to live in the city.

Missing the mountain life, her goats and her best friend Peter, it's not long before Heidi manages to make a new friend. But there's always a dream of returning to the mountains at the back of her mind. Will Heidi get her most heartfelt wish? 

Just bathe in this glorious edition's illos. I mean just look at 'em!

Heidi's new life in the bustling city of Frankfurt is a far cry from her beginnings in the mountains.
Jeanne's sensitive retelling of the story is compelling, exciting and sure to win over a whole new generation of Heidi fans. 

"Grumpy" Grandpa isn't so grumpy after all. 
Sum this book up in a sentence: A gorgeous edition of a classic story, beautifully designed to become a well-loved keepsake for many years to come, and given due homage by super-skilled Jeanne and Briony. 

"Heidi" by Johanna Spyri, Jeanne Willis and Briony May Smith is out now, published by Nosy Crow (kindly supplied for review). 

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Thursday 28 November 2019

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book Roundup - November 2019

Welcome, welcome to our last Chapter Book Roundup of 2019! December is traditionally our month for bringing you the very best Christmas books but we're not quite there yet, so let's see if we can find a ton of amazing books that might sneak their way into your christmas stockings at some point.

You might actually ladder them with our first book choice, the brilliant followup to "Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus" - Now we're on "Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus" by Dusti Bowling.

Meet Aven, no ordinary girl - and just as Aven starts to feel comfortable in Stagecoach Pass, with her friends and schoolmates accustomed to her lack of armage, everything changes once again.

She s about to begin high school - a huge place filled with 2,300 new kids to stare at her, and no matter how much Aven tries to play it cool, nothing prepares her for the reality.

In a year filled with confusion, humiliation, fears, loss, and just maybe love, can Aven manage to stay true to herself?

A superb book offering a tweenager's eye view of the world, arriving with perfect timing just as C enters senior school herself.

"Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus" by Dusti Bowling is out now, published by Sterling Books. 

For our next book, everyone knows "The Fonz" is cool, right? But did you know Henry Winkler is a successful children's author as well as Emmy-winning actor? No? Well you do now, and along with Lin Oliver his latest book series is here!

"Alien Superstar" tells the story of a super-cool alien called Buddy Burger (you probably couldn't pronounce his real name so don't even try). No one is shocked by the six-eyed alien strolling around the Universal Studios back lot.

The tourists just think Buddy is part of the show. It doesn’t take long for Buddy to land a role on a popular TV show, playing (of course) an alien. He becomes an overnight heartthrob and is suddenly faced with legions of adoring fans, rides in glamorous limos, and appearances at “all-the-shrimp-you-can-eat” red carpet parties.

But can Buddy maintain his secret identity while in the spotlight?

A fun and fabulous story urging kids never to judge a book (or an alien) by its cover. "Alien Superstar" by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver is out now, published by Amulet Books. 

Our next book is filled with glorious Nordic atmosphere, a distinctly different take on the usual 'teen upheaval' tale, but one that's filled with glorious characterisations and a storyline that most tweenagers will definitely identify with.

In "A Postcard to Ollis" by Ingunn Thon and Nora Brech, Ollis' life is less than perfect.

She's got a new baby brother and, even worse, her mum's neat-freak boyfriend has moved in.

Fortunately Ollis has always got her best friend Gro who lives right next door and they know each other inside out. 

Or do they? 

Ollis hasn't always been completely honest with Gro and when they find a postcard in a mysterious yellow mailbox in the forest, Ollis lie grows even bigger. 

What does Ollis know about the postcard that Gro doesn't?

Brilliantly written with enough neat twists to keep you guessing about its enigmatic central character, this is really fresh and fantastic stuff. 

"A Postcard to Ollis" by Ingunn Thon and Nora Brech is out now, published by Wacky Bee Books. 

Stunning stuff next, from an author-illustrator who has been such a hugely important person in C's reading journey, here turning her hand deftly to brilliant middle grade stuff for emerging solo readers. 

"Hubert Horatio: How to Raise your Grown-Ups" by Lauren Child once again visits the quirky world of Hubert Horatio Bartle Bobton-Trent, back in this hilarious and gloriously illustrated book for ages six and up from the superstar creator of Clarice Bean and Charlie and Lola.

“These stories are about the days when the Bobton-Trents had it cushy, very cushy indeed.”

The Bobton-Trent seniors certainly know how to make the most of their extravagant wealth – socialising, doing things, buying things and generally being more than a little bit … irresponsible!

Luckily for them, their son Hubert Horatio is an exceptionally intelligent, talented and sensible child.

Unluckily for Hubert, this tends to mean that a lot of his spare time is spent steering his rather unruly set of grown-ups out of trouble!

Full of giggles and Lauren's trademark quirky characters, it's an absolute treat!

"Hubert Horatio: How to raise your grown ups" by Lauren Child is out now, published by HarperCollins Children's Books. 

We love any books that celebrate awesome grandparents, and "Granny Magic" by Elka Evals and Teemu Juhani does just that!

Will's awesome granny used to bake amazing cakes and knitted itchy jumpers. Just like any other granny, right? At least that's what Will thought. But when she passed away, Will discovered that this shy retiring old lady was far more than she seemed. Her craft group was a front for a mighty set of magical octagenarians who once again must answer the call as dodgy Jasper Fitchet moves in to their village and dark magic begins to unravel in Knittington. 

Can Will and his gran's old craft group tie Fitchet in knots? 

With the help of her old motorbike and a flock of magical sheep, they might just do it ... so long as they don't drop a stitch.

We both loved this one, mostly because Granny Magic reminded us of our (late) Great Grandma who also could knit and bake up a storm, and once rode a Norton 500, terrorising the locale where we grew up!

"Granny Magic" by Elka Evalds and Teemu Juhani is out now, published by Chicken House Books. 

Time for high adventure in the snowy wastes of Siberia now, in the truly stunning "Nevertell" by Katharine Orton. 

Born in a Soviet prison camp, Lina has never seen the world outside until the night she escapes with her best friend, Bogdan.

The snowy wastes are no place for two young children, who soon find themselves relentlessly pursued by a pack of wolves. But these are no ordinary wolves - they belong to a dark sorceress who will stop at nothing to destroy them, and prevent them from fulfilling their destiny as the true saviours of the land. 

Woven with the sort of brilliant and mysterious expertise that we seek out in our fantasy novels, this is perfect for wintry evenings tucked up snug with a cup of cocoa as the blisteringly paced adventure unfolds for Lina and Bogdan. 

"Nevertell" by Katharine Orton is out now, published by Walker Books. 

Time for something brilliantly inspirational for mighty girls, the sort of book we love!

"Folk Tales for Bold Girls" by Fiona Collins and Ed Fisher delves into the oral history of countries around the world to show that many cultures embrace strong female protagonists in their traditional stories.

If you think that legends are just about princes rescuing princesses (and not the other way round) then this book's definitely for you!

Here you can read the story of Vasilisa, who wasn't afraid of the deep dark forest; Mollie Whuppie, who knew how to trick a giant; Tipingi, who was able to call on her friends to help her get out of trouble; Seren, who used her love of singing to help others; and many more fearless female characters in inspirational and exciting stories.

Fiona has chosen the best of the old tales from all around the world and reworked them into new and exciting versions to be enjoyed by everyone, accompanied by magical illustrations by talented artist Ed Fisher.

"Folk Tales for Bold Girls" by Fiona Collins and Ed Fisher is out now, published by The History Press. 

Next, we've reviewed many, many versions of Lewis Carroll's classic "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" ranging from the sublime to the standard, but we've never encountered an edition as gorgeous as this. 

"Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass" by Lewis Caroll, with brilliant illustrations and paper engineering by awesome art collective MinaLima really is the most collectable and scintillating version we've seen to date. 

Combining the classic story of Alice and her bizarre trip underground to a fantastic and surreal land ruled over by a harsh queen, each and every aspect of both stories is brought to stunning life in new and innovative ways. 

Reinvented on one volume by the talented design firm MinaLima, whose stunning drawings of some of Western literature's most famous characters will delight and enthrall, In addition, they have created interactive features exclusive to this edition. Definitely destined to become a keepsake for folk to pass down through the generations, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass" by Lewis Carroll and MinaLima is out now, published by 360 / Harper Design.

 The Game's Afoot in an all new adventure for a fabulous kid detective next. 

In "The Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries: The Scarlet Phantom" by Robert J. Harris, Artie and his best friend Ham are investigating the strange case of the Scarlet Phantom, a jewel thief who seems to walk through walls and disappear at will. 

But there's a rival detective on the case, a paranormal investigator who claims that only he can capture this phantom thief. 

With the help of their new friend, girl scientist Peril Abernethy, Artie and Ham follow a trail of baffling clues and impossible dangers, but can they catch the Phantom before the invisible fiend pulls off the greatest robbery in history? 

Robert brings the young Conan Doyle to life in the third instalment of this ingenious detective series full of twists, turns and clever reveals, shot through with a fantastic buzz of excitement and adventure set against the amazing backdrop of Edinburgh. 

"The Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries: The Scarlet Phantom" by Robert J. Harris is out now, published by Floris Kelpies. 

Looking ahead for our last two chapter books covered in our 2019 roundups, let's gaze into our crystal ball for two books we've seen early copies of, and are bowled over by. 

"Mickey and the Animal Spies" by Anne Miller and blog fave Becka Moor is coming next February from OUP. 

Mickey is the type of kid who's always on the lookout for a code to crack, she loves to keep her brain constantly working and busy.

So it's her lucky day when she spots a strange poster on the bus home from school written completely in code. 

Within the strange jumble of letters is a curious message, one that leads to an exciting adventure-with diamond thieves, dognappers, and an extraordinary group of animal spies! 

Written with the genius touch of including real coded messages, can you crack the codes before Mickey does?

Such a fantastic idea, and one we're hoping to see turning into a successful series in 2020. "Mickey and the Animal Spies" by Anne Miller and Becka Moor is out on 6th February 2020 published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books. 

...and coming from Nosy Crow in January...

"The Girl Who Stole an Elephant" by Nizrana Farook once again features a strong female protagonist who's not afraid to speak up and make her voice - and her actions - loud and proud. 

Young Chaya is a no-nonsense, outspoken hero. She leads her friends and a gorgeous elephant on a noisy, fraught, joyous adventure through the jungle where revolution is stirring and leeches lurk.

Will stealing the queen's jewels be the beginning or the end of everything for the intrepid gang? 

Chaya is the sort of character we just can't get enough of and despite her diminutive size, she's not afraid to make a stand for what she believes in - and finds hidden strength with her newfound elephant friend.

"The Girl Who Stole an Elephant" by Nizrana Farook is out on 9th January 2020, published by Nosy Crow. 

With our next book, you had us at "Deep in the forest, magic is waiting". The sort of hook line that instantly makes us sit up and pay attention, and with "Shadows of Winterspell" by Amy Wilson, that attention is well deserved as this is a scintillating slice of middle grade magic indeed!

Stella has been living behind the magic of the forest for most of her life. 

Lonely, she enrolls at the local school, and as she begins to make friends, she discovers that she is even more different than she thought. 

But as autumn turns to magical winter, Stella realizes that uncovering her own family secret is the only way to release the forest from the grip of a dark and old magic.

A wintery magical adventure from the critically-acclaimed Amy Wilson, author of A Girl Called Owl. "Shadows of Winterspell" is out now, published by Macmillan Children's Books. 

The next book in our pile is an amazingly original slice of awesomeness with a really unique 'layout' as the story of an unlikely friendship unfolds. 

"In the Key of Code" by Aimee Lucido is an original, inventive and heart-warming novel from an exciting debut author about a lonely new girl and an unlikely friendship formed in a school code club.

When twelve-year-old Emmy's musical family moves to California so her dad can take a job with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Emmy has never felt more out of tune. 

But when she ends up in a school computer science club, she finds that she can understand code through a language she is familiar with: music. 

Slowly, Emmy makes friends with Abigail and the two girls start to discover their voices through the programming language of Java.

Extraordinarily crafted, the novel begins to incorporate Java's syntax and concepts as Emmy, and ultimately the reader, learns to think in code. By the end, Emmy doesn't feel like a wrong note, but like a musician in the world's most beautiful symphony.

Fantastic for mighty girls who love coding and music (a bit like C, then!), "In the Key of Code" by Aimee Lucido really is one not to be missed. Out now from Walker Books

Our final book for our 2019 Chapter Book Roundups returns to the fantastic, spooky and exciting series from the late John Bellairs, picked up by Brad Strickland to win over a whole new audience. 

"The Doom of the Haunted Opera" comes from the same series as "The House With a Clock in its Walls" and is every bit as nailbitingly tense and dramatic, perfect for kids who love stuff like "Goosebumps" or "A Series of Unfortunate Events". 

When Lewis and Rose Rita explore an abandoned theatre, they discover an unpublished opera score entitled 'The Day of Doom'. Ignoring a strange omen, they show it to their music teacher, who heralds 'The Day of Doom' a masterpiece. Little do they know that the eerie Henry Vanderhelm, the composer's grandson, arrives with a plan to awaken the dead and enslave the world!

Soon, all the adults are enamoured - and enspelled - by Henry Vanderhelm. A mysterious fog descends upon New Zebedee and everyone is trapped inside it. It is up to Lewis and Rose Rita to stop the dead coming back to life.

Brilliant stuff with Brad picking up the awesome legacy of John's spooky storytelling perfectly. "The Doom of the Haunted Opera" by John Bellairs and Brad Strickland, with a cover by Nathan Collins, is out now, published by Piccadilly Press. 

And that's all she wrote for 2019's chapter book roundups. Please do stay tuned for the rest of our blog posts for November, and of course our Booky Advent Calendar through December, and our end-of-the-year blowout celebrating the best books and publishers, and hopefully stick with us in 2020!
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"Underground: Subways Around the World" by Uijung Kim (Cicada Books)

There's a fantastic and rapidly growing branch of non-fiction that caters specifically for younger kids who still prefer amazing visual presentation mixed in with their facts and figures. In fact in "Underground" by Uijung Kim, the text is purposely kept to a minimum as we take a journey across the globe to visit all the amazing places that have built public transport systems underneath our feet.

From New York, to London, to Moscow, there are many locations around the world that use subways or underground railways to help folk get to work, visit their friends and families, or perhaps even indulge in a spot of street entertainment.

This fantastic and colourful book is cleverly designed to follow the styles of underground systems in different locations (yep, did you know most underground railways have their own particular 'brand' that's instantly recognisable once you get to know them?)

To help engage kids further, there's a fabulous spotting game on each page too - can you find all the hidden objects in each colourful and busy scene?

We loved this book, it cleverly uses brilliant and yet simple design to convey the excitement of riding the underground (weirdly aside from the Northern and Victoria Lines, it's one of the things I miss most about living in London).

Sum this book up in a sentence: A fab little book this, and another brilliant title in Cicada's increasingly essential early years non-fic range.

"Underground: Subways around the World" by Uijung Kim is out now, published by Cicada Books (kindly supplied for review). 
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"Be Your Best Self" by Danielle Brown and Nathan Kai (Button Books)

In a world where kids are increasingly under pressure to be high achievers from an incredibly early age, sometimes you need a book that just takes a step back, allows kids room to breathe, but offers them fantastic and sound advice to help them jump every hurdle and hit every target.

Which is fortunate because "Be Your Best Self: Life Skills for Unstoppable Kids" by Olympic Champion Danielle Brown and brilliantly talented young man Nathan Kai is spot on.

Do you have dreams? Who would you like to be? What would you love to achieve in your life?

We are all unique and this book aims to show you just how to build the skills and experience to take your goal-getting to the next level.

Breaking down the advice into easily digestible topics such as core skills, perseverance, growth mindsets, organisation skills and - very important in our modern world - how to fail well.

Lots of advice on how to live and eat well, how to deal with adversity but also how to love the skin you're in.

Sum this book up in a sentence: A life-affirming selection of advice from Danielle and Nathan, brilliantly produced and presented in a way that talks to kids on their own level.

"Be Your Best Self" by Danielle Brown and Nathan Kai is out now, published by Button Books (kindly supplied for review). 
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Wednesday 27 November 2019

"Sofia Valdez Future Prez" by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts (Abrams Books for Young Readers)

The Imagineers series from Andrea Beaty and David Roberts has been one of the genuine delights of C's book journey over the past decade, and joining Rosie Revere, Iggy Peck and Ada Twist is a new gal we have completely fallen in love with as a fantastic and inspirational character.

"Sofia Valdez Future Prez" may well just be an ordinary little girl but she has a big challenge in mind. She wants to clean up her neighbourhood so that no one has to deal with a huge trash pile that's a complete blight on everyone's lives.

Sofia finds that small shy girls might not be the loudest public speakers, but when a message is worth believing in, people will get behind it, and soon the protests are heard by those higher ups, impressed with how this young girl has organised such a following - and not just with her awesome Abuela!

Andrea and David really are a dream team, bringing a solid story and superb characterful visuals into play for a book that will give kids a ton of inspiration to do the right thing by their friends, neighbours and the planet just like Sofia has.

Let's take a peep inside.

Did you spot Rosie, Iggy and Ada too?

Sum this book up in a sentence: A hugely inspirational book that shows even the tiniest voice can get behind a mighty cause and make a difference!

"Sofia Valdez Future Prez" by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts is out now, published by Abrams Young Readers (kindly supplied for review).
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"Atlas of Ocean Adventures" by Emily Hawkins and Lucy Letherland (Wide Eyed Editions)

The ocean in all its glory and majesty, is a natural environment that is home to some of the most incredible creatures on the planet.

With 4/5ths of our world comprised of oceans, "Atlas of Ocean Adventures" by Emily Hawkins and Lucy Letherland is a real treat for avid natural historians like us.

Lavishly illustrated, and full of incredible facts about our oceans, set your spirit of adventure and your curiosity free.

Whether you’re travelling long haul with leatherback turtles across the Pacific, snoozing with sea otters or ice bathing with a walrus, this book celebrates the very prescient topic of the world’s oceans with Lucy Letherland’s animal characters.

Each spread features 10 captions and and facts about every destination.

Joining the other fantastic natural history books by Emily and Lucy, this one's very special indeed.

Sum this book up in a sentence: A fascinating deep dive into the oceans to see what's under the sea!

"Atlas of Ocean Adventures" by Emily Hawkins and Lucy Letherland is out now, published by Wide Eyed Editions (kindly supplied for review). 
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Tuesday 26 November 2019

"Where's Spidey? A Spider-Man Search and Find Book" (Studio Press / Marvel Entertainment International)

With this year celebrating 80 years of amazing Marvel comics, one superhero in particular has remained our firm favourite - with fantastic runs in both movie and comic form, Spider-Man is still as awesome as ever.

Here's a fantastic book for younger Marvel fans, who can indulge in a bit of amateur detective work to spot their web-slinging pal in amongst a ton of busy scenes.

In "Where's Spidey? A Spider-Man Search and Find Book" you won't just spot Spider-Man himself, but hidden amongst the crowds are his super-pals and of course Aunt May, J Jonah Jameson and various characters who inhabit the spider-verse.

Each scene is fizzing with detail as super-villains have stormed New York City, intent on wreaking havoc, and it's up to Spidey and his pals to stop them!

You can help by solving visual clues and spotting goodies and baddies alike.

It's absolutely superb, let's take a look inside at a couple of the scenes...

Mister Negative is hiding, can you spot him?
Watch out for the Green Goblin and his dangerous pumpkin bombs!
It's a huge amount of fun this, and C was absolutely delighted to find her own fave Spidey character, Spider-Gwen in one of the scenes alongside Miles Morales and Spider-Ham.

Sum this book up in a sentence: An absolutely essential purchase for mini mites who love Spidey as much as we do!

"Where's Spidey? A Spider-Man Search and Find Book" is out now, published by Studio Press / Marvel (kindly supplied for review).
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"Colossus" by Colin Hynson and Guilia Lombardo (Templar Publishing)

Have you ever wondered how the world's most amazing constructions were designed and built? Not just buildings, but amazing ships, fantastic bridges and stunning landmarks.

"Colossus" by Colin Hynson and Guilia Lombardo celebrates some of the most iconic engineering projects ever dreamed up by their creative and talented designers, constructions that have - and will - stand the test of time.

True colossi, stretching back through time to when workers built the pyramids, right up to modern times and amazing projects such as the International Space Station.

From high in space, to underground, engineering projects are everywhere and this brilliant book will tell you all you need to know about The Golden Gate Bridge, The London Underground, The Hoover Dam, The Great Wall of China, The SS Great Britain and many, many more.

Sum this book up in a sentence: A truly fantastic book for kids to learn all about how the most amazing engineering projects were brought into the world.

"Colossus" by Colin Hynson and Guilia Lombardo is out now, published by Templar Publishing (kindly supplied for review). 
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Monday 25 November 2019

"AAAHHH!" by Guilherme Karsten (Thames and Hudson)

Thames and Hudson once again reinforce their reputation for publishing some of the most original and gorgeous picture books from creators around the world with the fun and chaotically crazy "Aaahhh!" by Guilherm Karsten.

The world wakes up to a noise. Not just any noise but the loudest and most irritating noise you can possibly imagine (no it's not my snoring!)

Chaos ensues as everyone around the world chases around to try and find the source of the noise.

Is it aliens? Could it be someone going crazy with a broken Saxophone? Is it a meteor crashing into a car horn factory?

No one knows - but when the truth comes out, everyone's completely taken by surprise that something could make such a colossal racket.

This is fablous stuff, reminiscent of crazy 1960s picture books that always featured a rambunctuous chase around the planet. We love this one to bits!

Sum this book up in a sentence: A superb original and crazy book that'll tickle little ones as they try to second-guess what the noise is right up to the big reveal.

"Aaahhh!" by Guilherme Karsten is out now, published by Thames and Hudson (kindly supplied for review). 

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"Earth Heroes: Twenty inspiring stories of people saving our world" by Lily Dyu and Jackie Lay (Nosy Crow)

The creative response to the climate crisis has been truly awe-inspiring in 2019. As kids the world over rise up and protest about the mess that grown ups are making of our planet, there are some folk out there who see their point of view perfectly (like us!)

"Earth Heroes" by Lily Dyu and Jackie Lay gathers together 20 inspiring stories of those people - young and old alike.

Built around a core theme that even one person can make a difference, these stories not only highlight the work that these amazing people are doing, but the things we can all do to make a significant change for the better. 

From Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough to Yin Yuzhen and Isatou Ceesay, each tale is a beacon of hope in the fight for the future of our planet.

Be inspired by stories of notable figures such as:

Mohammed Rezwan, architect behind Bangladesh s pioneering floating school scheme

Greta Thunberg, Swedish teen striking to raise awareness of climate change

Andrew Turton and Pete Ceglinski, Australian inventors of the Seabin

Isatou Ceesay, Gambian innovator turning waste into wealth for her community

Stella McCartney, British designer fighting for sustainable fashion.

and of course Sir David Attenborough, a broadcaster and campaigner for many causes around the preservation of our natural world. 

Sum this book up in a sentence: Another brilliant awe-inspiring book about those standing up to make a difference when it comes to climate change. 

"Earth Heroes" by Lily Dyu and Jackie Lay is out now, published by Nosy Crow (kindly supplied for review). 

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Friday 22 November 2019

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week: Week Ending 22nd November 2019: "Dork Diaries: Spectacular Superstar" by Rachel Renee Russell (Simon and Schuster Children's Books)

Phew! Can you believe this is book 14 in Rachel Renee Russell's amazing and hugely successful book series?

The whoop of glee from C that announced the arrival of "Dork Diaries: Spectacular Superstar" could probably have been heard right across the Atlantic - as we once again join Nikki Maxwell and her school chums for another round of craziness, Maxwell style!

Nikki and her bandmates are looking forward to an AWESOME time on tour as the opening act for the world famous Bad Boyz! 

The only downside? Nikki’s frenemy, MacKenzie Hollister, has weaselled her way onto the tour as a social media guru. Oh dear oh dear oh dear!

Nikki’s determined to stay out of MacKenzie’s way to avoid any drama, but then she learns that MacKenzie is going to be her roommate! 

TOTAL DISASTER! Will Nikki survive her dream tour as it quickly goes from AWESOME to AWFUL?!

We don't know how Rachel does it - yet again a truly brilliant slice of Nikki Maxwell's life, filled with spot-on brilliantly observed humour. C is a colossal fan of this series, and proclaimed this latest book the greatest yet, so if that's not a high enough recommendation, I don't know what is!

"Dork Diaries: Spectacular Superstar" by Rachel Renee Russell is out now, published by Simon and Schuster (kindly supplied for review). 
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ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week: Week Ending 22nd November 2019: "Scouts: The Stories that Built a Movement" with a foreword by Bear Grylls, chief scout (Studio Press)

Our second book of the week is something very special indeed, celebrating a movement that arose from humble beginnings, but with a core aim that is still as relevant today as it was back at the turn of the 20th Century.

"Scouts: The Stories that Built a Movement" with a foreword by the chief scout himself, Bear Grylls, isn't just a celebration of Scouting as it stands today, but digs deep into scouting history to show how Lord Baden Powell began the movement way, way back in 1907.

The very first scout camp was on Brownsea Island, a place that is still in use by the scouts and guides, brownies and cubs, rainbows and beavers today.

We have a specific reason for being completely thrilled by this book's existence. Both my wife and I were part of the scouting movement (me as a cub, her as a brownie, guide and later a guide leader) and we always wanted C to join the movement as soon as she was old enough.

She progressed through Rainbows to Brownies and is now still in the Guides, and without a doubt the opportunities that have arisen from membership, and the amazing gains in her confidence and abilities have been in no small part due to the nurturing and development that is the heart of the modern scouting movement.

I would truly have liked the book to have slightly more of a balance for both the scouting and guide movements but there are sections in here that show the opportunities have always been open equally to both girls and boys, for kids of all creeds and abilities - stretching around the world to international scouting movements that at home and abroad have seen some of the world's most famous celebrities sharing stories later in the book of their own experiences as scouts or guides.

The book goes a long way to addressing some of the criticisms that have been levelled at the movement over the years. Misconceptions that it drums people into being religious or militaristic, things that we've never seen or experienced in the many years C has been a member.

It's something that she'll be able to take forward with her into all aspects of her life, and this book pays homage to scouting's origins, and the plans for the future to keep the movement as relevant and as fun for kids as it has always been.

Sum this book up in a sentence: A brilliant celebration of the scouting movement, a fascinating slice of history and anecdotes from many celebrities to whom scouting represented a happy time in their lives.

"Scouts: The Stories that Built a Movement" with a foreword by Bear Grylls is out now, published by Studio Press (kindly supplied for review).
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ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 22nd November 2019: "Poems from a Green and Blue Planet" curated by Sabrina Mahfouz and illustrated by Aaron Cushley (Scholastic Children's Books)

Our first book of the week is a poetry compilation that stretches arms across the world to embrace and celebrate the natural wonders, the amazing beauty and the glorious creatures our planet plays host to.

"Poems from a Green and Blue Planet" edited by Sabrina Mahfouz and illustrated by Aaron Cushley is more than just a celebration of these things, it's also at times a solemn and all too timely reminder of just what we stand to lose if we don't dig in and do someting about climate change.

The selection of poems, haikus, prose, rap and lyrics has been carefully selected by Sabrina to show our planet at its best, most glorious and most stunning.

From poems that evoke and celebrate the passing of the seasons, to verses about amazing creatures, there's truly something for everyone in here - and even just reading down the contents list, you can feel all the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end at the sheer diversity and amazing variety of subjects covered in this beautiful, beautiful book.

With truly stunning illustrations from Aaron, this is one to treasure and keep for generations to come.

"Poems from a Green and Blue Planet" edited by Sabrina Mahfouz and illustrated by Aaron Cushley is out now, published by Scholastic Children's Books (kindly supplied for review). 
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Thursday 21 November 2019

"Max the Detective Cat: The Catnap Caper" by Sarah Todd Taylor, with illustrations by Nicola Kinnear (Nosy Crow)

Did you know there's a whole genre based around cat detective fiction? No? Well there most certainly is. Cats are naturally inquisitive, quite cunning and excellent at solving problems and puzzles (you thought those mackerel fillets were safe in the fridge? Better check again when you get home!)

"Max the Detective Cat" by Sarah Todd Taylor and Nicola Kinnear is an excellent example of middle grade detective fiction that just so happens to fall into the cat-egory (I know, the cat puns, we just can't help ourselves) and it's the third brilliant novel chronicling Max's amazing adventures.

This time the globetrotting cat is off to Paris to investigate a very mysterious disappearance amongst the rooftops and spires of this romantic and enchanting city.

Max arrives in the midst of preparations for a fantastic singing competition which has the city's attention, but meanwhile something altogether more nefarious is going on.

Pampered moggies are disappearing from their comfortable homes and no one knows why so it's up to Max to take a closer look at a truly puzzling and baffling case.

Sarah's characters are delicious, truly - and Max is whip-smart and engaging, setting us up for a glorious detective romp in a fabulous setting.

If you've not yet caught up with the series, do check out "The Disappearing Diva" and "The Phantom Portrait" - the previous adventures in Max's amazing life as a superb feline sleuth. Utterly brilliant stuff!

Sum this book up in a sentence: A superb moggy-based detective romp amongst the rooftops of Paris, beautifully written and illustrated, pulling curious kids right into the story with tons of atmosphere and cleverness.

"Max the Detective Cat: The Catnap Caper" by Sarah Todd Taylor and Nicola Kinnear is out now, published by Nosy Crow Books (kindly supplied for review). 
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"Insect Superpowers" by Kate Messner and Jillian Nickels (Chronicle Books)

Bugs are amazing, just ask any kid who has stared in awe at the antics of ants, beetles and bees.

"Insect Superpowers" by Kate Messner and Jillian Nickels gathers together some really impressive little critters, showing that despite their diminutive size, they're capable of amazing feats of strength, intelligence, cunning and even engineering!

Some are amazing predators, able to unleash a truly awesome arsenal of weaponry at their disposal.

Some are talented mimics, able to defy predators by pretending to be much bigger (and much hungrier) creatures than they actually are.

It's a superb collection of 18 incredible superheroes and supervillains of the insect world, in a book that's laid out in a cool comic style to maximise engagement with the subject matter, inspiring kids to pick up a magnifying glass and take a closer look at the insect world that often passes unseen beneath our feet.

Let's take a look inside at some of the amazing spreads:

Sum this book up in a sentence: A book that perfectly demonstrates just how incredible and amazing insects really are, brilliantly presented in a kick-ass comic style. 

"Insect Superpowers" by Kate Messner and Jillian Nickels is out now, published by Chronicle Children's Books (kindly supplied for review). 
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Wednesday 20 November 2019

Celebrtating National Non-Fiction November with two brilliant new titles from Cicada Books

It's National Non-Fiction November, a month-long celebration of all the awesomeness to be found in Children's Non-Fiction titles.

We're huge fans of innovative, engaging and interesting non-fiction titles and Cicada Books have two stunning new titles to tempt you, filled to the brim with fascinating facts and awesome knowledge.

So let's dig under the earth for the superb "Earth Shattering Events - Volcanoes, Earthquakes, Cyclones, Tsunamis and other Natural Disasters" by Robin Jacobs and Sophie Williams.

Our earth is a fragile ecosystem, and when climate change, adverse weather conditions and the slow shift of land masses and tectonic plates are at their most active, spectacular and dangeous things can happen.

In "Earth Shattering Events" you'll learn about natural disasters, how they occur, what causes them and how we've come to adapt, overcome and survive these catastrophies. Digging into the science of geology and metrology, this book is anything but a light touch, providing fascinating insights into areas of science that aren't often covered in such exquisite detail in natural history books. Authoritatively written with fantastic colourful and engaging illustrations, it's a brilliant book for home or school projects.

"Earth Shattering Events" by Robin Jacobs and Sophie Williams is out now, published by Cicada Books. 

The second book in our in-depth review of awesome non-fiction titles from Cicada is "Gut Garden: A journey into the wonderful world of your Microbiome" by Katie Brosnan.

This time the fragile ecosystem in question is the one inside our own bodies. Have you ever wondered what happens between you eating your dinner and - er - it coming out of the other end? In between are your intestines - and an amazing ecosystem in microscopic form, comprising amazing life forms and friendly bacteria that all have a part to play in extracting all the goodness from your food to build your body strong and healthy.

The book delves into what these different bacteria do, which foods are great (and terrible) for your gut, and how to maintain a healthy balance to ensure everything runs smoothly.

This is a truly amazing little title, one that again we don't often see dealt with as a subject but it's brilliantly done so here, a perfect jumping-off point for kids to discover all sorts of amazing biological functions our bodies are capable of.

"Gut Garden" by Katie Brosnan is out now, published by Cicada Books (both titles kindly supplied for review)

Check out more awesome Cicada titles on their website here!
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"Caveboy Crush" by Beth Ferry and Joseph Kuefler (Abrams Books for Young Readers)

Ready for an old-fashioned romance? I mean REALLY old fashioned, prehistoric in fact. 

In "Caveboy Crush" it's a case of caveboy meets cavegirl. Neander is a happy soul, spending his days doodling on his cave wall, chasing mammoth butterflies and playing with his pet rock (aptly named Rock!)

But sometimes life is lonely. Until the day Neander meets Neanne. 

She's short, hairy, possibly a bit pongy but in Neander's eyes she's utterly and completely perfect. 

The only problem is Neander is having trouble grabbing her attention. What can he do to impress this girl? 

Flowers won't work, nor pretty shells. Neanne needs something more to impress her, so it's up to Neander to come up with a way of wooing her that will win the day. 

Sum this book up in a sentence: Sweet, and unique, this is a great little book to save till next Valentine's Day. 

"Caveboy Crush" by Beth Ferry and Joseph Kuefler is out now, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers (kindly supplied for review).
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